Most of us realize that diet and exercise play an important part in keeping us healthy. But did you know that a healthy mouth is also an important part of a healthy body?Poor oral health can affect a person’s quality of life. Oral pain, missing teeth or oral infections can influence the way a person speaks, eats and socializes. These oral health problems can reduce a person’s quality of life by affecting their physical, mental and social well-being.Oral disease, like any other disease, needs to be treated. A chronic infection, including one in the mouth, is a serious problem that should not be ignored. Yet bleeding or tender gums are often overlooked.Research has shown there is an association between oral disease and other health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke, respiratory illness in older adults, as well as pre-term and low-birth-weight babies. Although researchers are just beginning to understand this relationship, evidence shows that oral disease can aggravate other health problems and that keeping a healthy mouth is an important part of leading a healthy life.
5 Steps to a Healthy Mouth
1. Keep your mouth clean
- Use a soft-bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss every day. After flossing, roll it up in a tiny ball and put it in the garbage. Never flush floss down the toilet.
- Eat a well-balanced diet.
- Limit foods and beverages containing sugar or carbohydrates.
- Ideal snack foods: cheese, nuts, vegetables, and non-acidic fruits.
- Look for oral care products with the Canadian Dental Association (CDA) Seal.
2. Check your mouth regularly
Look for signs of gum disease:
- Red, shiny, puffy, sore or sensitive gums
- Bleeding when you brush or floss
- Bad breath that won’t go away
Look for signs of oral cancer:
- Bleeding or open sores that don’t heal
- White or red patches
- Numbness or tingling
- Small lumps and thickening on the sides or bottom of your tongue, the floor or roof of your mouth, the inside of your cheeks, or on your gums
3. Eat well
- Good nutrition helps build strong teeth and gums.
- Munch on mouth healthy snacks like cheeses, nuts, vegetables, and non-acidic fruits.
4. See your dentist regularly
- 48% of Canadians who haven’t seen a dentist in the past year have gum disease. Regular dental exams and professional cleanings are the best way to prevent and detect problems before they get worse.
5. Don’t smoke or chew tobacco
- Smoking and chewing tobacco can cause oral cancer, heart disease, gum disease, and a variety of other cancers.